SUPREME Court Judge Justice Leighton Pusey yesterday expressed tacit support for provisions under the proposed Bail Act which allow for electronic monitoring of individuals out on bond.
The judge’s comment on the issue came in the aftermath of yet another defendant out on bail disappearing on the day trial was scheduled to start in his court.
“Very interestingly, there is scope for two things which the powers that be have not yet put in place in relation to the Bail Act, which is that there is actually provision for electronic monitoring which we never had,” Justice Pusey said on Friday while making the cryptic observation that, “It’s always interesting to see legislation made with grand designs and passed and the executive doesn’t necessarily get around to these things.”
The trial judge was informed that Kuoran Patterson — the man who was to stand trial for the 2012 murder of attorney Clover Graham — had seemingly absconded bail. Just last November Simeon Sutherland, the man accused of murdering former People’s National Party Member of Parliament Dr Lynvale Bloomfield and whose trial was set to begin before Justice Pusey, disappeared from the precincts of the court after arriving with his parents. He remains on the run. The police have been ordered to arrest Sutherland on sight while officials at the sea and airports have been instructed to be on high alert.
Electronic monitoring of accused granted bail will be one of the provisions in the new Bail Act. When passed into law it will grant presiding judges in Jamaica the authority to prescribe whether a defendant who is granted bail should wear an electronic tracking device or ankle bracelet. Section 8 (5c) of the Bill stipulates “the wearing by the defendant of an electronic tracking device to allow for the monitoring of the movements of the defendant, being a device in accordance with such specifications and characteristics as shall be prescribed”. In addition, Section 14 of the Bill says that a person who absconds while on bail faces up to five years in prison for the offence if convicted in a parish court and up to seven years if the conviction is before a Circuit Court. Of note is that this conviction will run consecutive to the offence for which the defendant was before the court in the first place. A defendant is determined to have absconded if he/she fails to surrender to custody; or having reasonable excuse for failing to surrender to custody, fails to surrender to custody as soon as possible after the time originally appointed for the defendant to surrender to custody.
Patterson had been arrested, along with two others in 2012, for the murder. He, however, chose to go to trial while the two other accused pleaded guilty and were sentenced. The accused has appeared before the court on numerous occasions in relation to the matter since 2012 and was present up to Thursday at the Supreme Court when the matter was called up. He had his bail extended at that hearing, with the expectation being that he would return for the trial on Friday morning.
However, when Justice Pusey asked for Patterson to be brought in so the matter could proceed, he was told that the man was nowhere to be found.
Attorney for Patterson, Zara Lewis, told the court that she had not been able to contact her client since Friday morning.
“Milord, our team spoke to him several times. Our team spoke to him at 7:35 last night [Thursday night] and since morning we have not been able to make contact with Mr Patterson or his family. Even at the last hour we exercised our best efforts to locate him, hoping that he would appear before your Lordship,” Lewis said. Friday.
Justice Pusey, in ordering that a bench warrant be issued for the arrest of Patterson, adjourned the matter to Monday, January 16 when he will indicate his decision in the matter if Patterson is still a no-show.
The accused can still be tried and sentenced in his absence, based on the law. That decision rests with the trial judge.
Graham was killed roughly a week after she returned to Jamaica from Britain in August of 2012. Police found the body of the 56-year-old lawyer — who had been reported missing — on the infield of the Caymanas Polo Club, off the Mandela Highway in St Catherine. The corpse was lying face down with its throat slashed — a similar position to that in which her son, Taiwo McKenzie, and his girlfriend Jhanel Whyte, the victims of the horrific 2007 ‘Good Samaritan’ killings, were found in November 2007.
Graham, a University of Technology, Jamaica lecturer and UN representative, is from Eltham Acres in Spanish Town, St Catherine. Police theorised that she was abducted while entering her home after returning from a visit to a friend in Hope Pastures, St Andrew.
Only two months before her murder, 24-year-old André Ennis of Havendale, St Andrew, and 24-year-old Passmore Millings, also called Shane Brown, of Gregory Park, St Catherine, both labourers, were convicted for slashing the throats of her son and his girlfriend before dumping them in bushes in Mount Salus, St Andrew. The men were each ordered to serve 50 years’ imprisonment before being eligible for parole but later filed an appeal which saw their sentences being reduced by 10 years.
Dubbed the good Samaritans, the couple had gone to the area with medication and other supplies for Ennis and George Cooper (later turned State witness) who they had hit from a motorcycle while driving along Border Avenue in St Andrew a week earlier.